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porch & exterior, part 7: painting the house!

04.06 completing the transformation from crack house to hall house

click to see the full photo galleryThe credit for the house colors goes to Sal.

A week after the "Tearing out the Carpet" project that had us not only wanting to tear out our hair, but also considering flinging ourselves from the St. Johns Bridge. Our first project, and we were already suicidal...what had we gotten ourselves into?

We decided a trip to the coast was in order. We had neither the time nor money for more than a day-long visit, but spending time on the sand with the sound of the surf and the salt air in your lungs will go a long way to saving your sanity any day. As we sat there that day, gradually calming down and remembering all the reasons we'd wanted this house, we talked about how it would look someday. The plans we had for the attic, the retreat we'd make the bathroom into, the sanctuary the backyard would become. We talked colors for the house: dark green, maybe, or pretty sage and a purple door, or deep blue with tan trim.

Sal suggested that the color of the wet sand beneath our feet would be a good house color, and from there, it was meant to be: wet sand for main body of the house, the color of the blue-black rocks that litter the northern Oregon coastline for the main trim color, the color of sun-bleached clam shells for the window trim color, the pretty blue-purple that streaks the inside of a mussel shell for a front door. The Arts & Crafts movement took its cues from nature, so what better way to adorn our home than to dress it in the the colors of the gorgeous coast that we so love?

Four years later, and the time had come. The day we first saw our house, it looked something like this.

This is the house you all saw when we sent those first pictures. This is the house that made you all question our sanity. This is the house that made you wonder if perhaps we'd finally bitten off more than we could chew.

This is not the house we saw.

Looking back, we know it was love at first sight because we didn't even notice the terrifically awful porch rebuild. The big, ugly blue apartment building next door? Completely oblivious. And there was an ugly aluminum clothesline on one side of the house that never registered. All we saw was the house of our dreams. Which isn't to say that we didn't realize all the work the house needed -- we did. It just didn't matter.

Since then, the initial flush of excitement that comes with any new relationship has...well, not exactly dissipated, but it's been replaced by a more complete understanding of what our commitment meant. But as with any good love affair that's destined to last forever, I'm happy to say that our love for our house has only deepened in the intervening years as we've poured our heart and soul into it, not in spite of all the work we've had to do, but because of it. And that love has transformed this house, slowly but surely, into our home.

But getting it to this point, as you can imagine, took work. When the contractor finished priming, we had to wait a few weeks for several heavy rainstorms to pass and a commercial project on his list to be finished. I don't know who watched the weather reports more closely during those weeks, them or us. But finally, the forecast predicted a week of cool, gray, but thankfully, dry weather and by the time I left that Monday morning, the painters were setting up for the final stage. By the end of the week, the house and all the trim was painted.

In honor of our house's extreme makeover, we decided the house numbers were in need of a little facelift, too. They're the porcelain tiles that you'll find on old houses all over Portland that started appearing in the 30s, so of course we were saving them! They'd been splattered with paint during some previous house painting adventure and the black paint on the numbers had chipped and faded.  I cleaned everything thoroughly, and using some black enamel porcelain paint from a craft store, very carefully re-painted each of the numbers (the paint required baking in the oven, as well). I also spray-painted the metal frame black just to sharpen it up a bit. We were pleased with the result.

To save money on the work, we opted to paint the front door and the front and back porch floors ourselves (that's why the front porch isn't painted in the third finished house picture at the bottom -- it was taken before we'd painted it). We also chose to paint the screens ourselves (because they were yet to be built), yet another way to save money.

The front door was going to be a different color than the other three -- purple, natch -- and for what it would cost for them to do a fourth color, it was an easy way to save money.

The painters were nice enough to mask off the front door window for us, although we had to tear off the masking they'd done of the door handle and lock in order to get into the house. Turned out nice, donchya think? And notice our shiny new doorknocker? That was actually a Christmas gift from Dad and Malinda a few years ago, one that we had our eye on for awhile with our beloved Claddagh and the traditional Irish welcome, "Cead Mile Failte", or "One Hundred Thousand Welcomes" in Gaelic.

As for the porch floors, we wanted to use an actual porch paint, which would've been charged as a fourth color since it was a different kind of paint than the rest (even though it was the same color as the house body) and since we already had some not-so-minor finish work to do on the front porch and we needed to rebuild the back porch stairs, we decided to save money there, too.

But even though those things weren't yet done (next installments), seeing the house in the colors we picked out that first month after we moved in...I think we both felt something click into place down deep inside, like the adoption papers had finally gone through and the house was officially ours. The house that we saw -- the one no one else could -- finally appeared.

Welcome to Hall House.

click to see full photo gallery